It’s not enough to be a procurement practitioner anymore, according to execs at VSP Global, an eye care provider with worldwide operations. Procurement teams should play important roles across their businesses, they said at a recent Sourcing Industry Group’s online “SIGnature event.”
To VSP, procurement must become a trusted advisor in an organization because it has the visibility across all departments.
“Procurement’s 360-degree view of the business is its No. 1 asset,” said Nathan Haydn-Myer, VSP’s Head of Procurement CoE, Distribution and Mail Services. “It’s not savings, it’s not supplier management. It is 100% the view of the business we have. If you think about it, procurement is the proverbial water cooler.”
As a trusted advisor, procurement is a problem solver for any business needs. Haydn-Myer said that procurement is about trying to leverage all relationships and manage the right outcome.
Diversity plays a role
Part of leveraging relationships comes with placing a priority in diversity. Siddharth Ramesh, Head of Sourcing, Travel and Supplier Diversity at VSP Global, said procurement has a role to play in diversity and inclusion efforts. VSP Global hired a Chief Diversity Officer while focusing on its procurement diversity efforts.
“We got a headstart in trying to think how we could restart our diversity program,” Ramesh said. “Over the past three, four months, we’ve started conversations among business partners. Really socializing about what supplier diversity means. … Supplier diversity is the right thing to do. We’re trying to figure out how we can enhance the opportunity and provide for inclusion.”
5 steps to be a trusted procurement advisor
Ultimately, it’s the journey. As procurement becomes more mature, it will be stronger in organizations. It’s a “virtuous cycle” where the more you do it well, the more opportunities open up and it enhances the reputation of the department.
VSP Global outlined five steps to become a trusted advisor:
- Collaborate and align: Think outside the box and communicate
- Listen, learn, then lead
- Create SMART goals
- Regular touchpoints: Lead two-way conversations
- Enable: Become a dependable advisor to the business
Haydn-Myer said it’s important for procurement professionals to be creative and have fun with procurement. He used an example of using video vignettes to explain procurement and advocate for its role in organizations.
Part of the creative process of doing procurement is thinking ahead to the trends that will happen in the industry.
Greg Tennyson, VSP’s Head of Corporate Services, shared five early trends that VSP Global sees in the procurement landscape:
- Data analytics
- Right to equality
- Risk mitigation
Once procurement leads the charge as a trusted advisor, it can trickle down to affect other parts of the organization. Yes, procurement can save an organization money. However, by prioritizing procurement as the trusted advisor, everything else falls into place, he said.